T. Bashaev Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

T. Bashaev Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Teddy Riner, a French judoka and a 10-time world champion in the heavyweight division, has spent the previous half a decade training for the possibility to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals.

In a single devastating moment on the tatami in Tokyo, Riner lost his opportunity. Because of a slip, top-seeded Russian T. Bashaev pounced, and Riner was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Despite his loss, Riner responded with optimism and excitement about the future, especially since the Olympics would be held in Paris in just three years.

T. Bashaev Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Riner Lost to T. Bashaev in Golden Score

In a bizarre match on Friday, Riner lost to T. Bashaev in golden score, ending his hopes of tying the record for most consecutive gold medals won. A bronze medalist in Beijing 13 years ago, Riner kept at it in the evening to earn his fourth successive medal with two more triumphs.

Due to his lack of recent competition, Riner was not seeded into Tokyo, but he won his first two matches handily to earn a spot in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

Then, 29 seconds into golden score, the 6-foot-8 Riner lost to the 5-foot-9 T. Bashaev when he fell on his back while trying to throw his opponent, and T. Bashaev was awarded a waza ari on a sumi-otoshi throw thanks to the video review system.

Riner seemed perplexed by the choice, but he had put himself in a position of weakness that T. Bashaev exploited to his advantage by pushing forward and knocking him over. Two years of inactivity for the most skilled judoka of his time may explain the veteran Riner’s blunder, but he refused to offer an excuse.

T. Bashaev’s Olympic Career Ended

Riner’s bid to equal the Olympic record of three consecutive gold medals held by Japan’s Tadahiro Nomura from 1996 to 2004 was foiled by the loss. Riner claimed to have discussed the weight of a potential three-peat with Nomura on multiple occasions.

After losing in the morning session at the Budokan, Riner still had a shot at bronze in the repechage in the evening session, and he didn’t let it slip away.

He defeated the Brazilian Rafael Silva, who had won two Olympic medals himself, with an armbar in just 46 seconds, securing a spot for him in the bronze medal match.

After Hisayoshi Harasawa of Japan was given a third penalty in golden score, Riner eliminated him. Five years previously, in the final in Rio de Janeiro, Riner also triumphed over Harasawa.

Despite beating Riner, T. Bashaev’s Olympic career ended in the semi-finals, where he was defeated by the Czech Republic’s Luká Krpálek, who went on to win the heavyweight gold by knocking out Georgia’s Guram Tushishvili. T. Bashaev came back and won the other bronze medal.

Final Words

After receiving yet another medal, but not the one he had hoped for, Riner began planning for the immediate and distant futures. On Saturday, he will be representing France in the inaugural Olympic mixed team event, when he will have the opportunity to win a fifth medal.

Naturally, he also recognises that the next three years would be fraught with pressure to culminate his career on the mat in Paris. If anything, Riner sounded even more committed than usual to playing until 2024.

I’m very pleased to bring home a fourth (gold),” Riner said. For the long run, I can go one of two ways. I’m hoping to win a gold medal in the upcoming team competition. When that time comes, I’ll be ready for Paris. And then I put the book away.”